What Doesn’t Work on Facebook

After four years of Facebook games, it’s also possible to make some pretty fair generalizations of what doesn’t work on the platform, as described in the following sections.

3D Graphics

Although Flash and other web platforms can now display robust 3D graphics, and some 3D games are popular on the larger web, no Facebook game with 3D graphics has achieved any significant popularity. This is due in part to the longer load times associated with graphics-heavy games and Facebook’s preference for short session gameplay. It’s probably just as much due to the mismatch of the attention required for a 3D game versus the lightly engaged, text-driven experience of the social network. As proof of this, consider Gaikai, the successful cloud-deployment service. In April 2012, it began offering high-quality 3D console games for free on Facebook, but as of June, it had gained fewer than 9,000 fans.

That is, monthly users in the six figures.

Poorly Networked Games

Just as all the top Facebook games heavily leverage the platform’s social sharing features, most successful games emphasize gaming interaction between players. Very few, if any, games on Facebook are played on a solitary basis. Even games that were primarily solo on other platforms, such as Tetris and Bejeweled, have been re-designed to emphasize player-to-player competition through leaderboards, live matches, and other features that emphasize the fun of playing the game with (and against) others on ...

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